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History


The John Guild House, now known as Manoa Valley Inn, was purchased in 1919 by John Guild, a Honolulu businessman. It had been built four years earlier by Iowa lumber dealer Milton Moore and has been refurbished and restored several times over its lifespan. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

Prior to a major 1919 remodeling, the Guild residence was a large two-story bungalow style house which featured brown shingles. No detailed historic photographs of the house of this era exist, and all knowledge of the former appearance is based upon several aerial photographs of Manoa Valley and the present physical evidence. From this information it has been determined that the large brackets, outset square projections, porte cochere and inset centered porch all derive from the period of John Guild's occupancy.

The present form dates from a major remodeling undertaken in 1919 by John Guild, Secretary of Alexander and Baldwin. The lot and house had been previously owned by Benjamin Dillingham, founder of the Oahu Railway and Land Company; Richard Bickerton, Supreme Court Justice and Privy Council Member under Queen Lilioukalani; Grace Merrill, sister of Architect Charles Dickey, and wife of Arthur Merrill, principal of Mid Pacific Institute. The original house predates the Merrill's ownership (1911). In 1922, John Guild was convicted of embezzling $755,895.52 from Alexander Baldwin. The house was sold to the company for $1.00 and Guild was sent to prison where he died in 1927. In 1925, merchant Arthur J. Spitzer and his wife Selma purchased the house. They lived here until 1970.

The house was purchased in the 1980s by Honolulu businessman Rick Ralston (the founder of Crazy Shirts), who restored it in 1982 for use as a bed and breakfast under the name John Guild Inn, later Manoa Valley Inn, the name under which it still operates. In 1990 the Nakamitsu Corporation purchased and further refurbished it.

The three-story gabled cottage near the campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa contains eight guest rooms, 2 of which are used by the current owner's family. The rooms are furnished with fine antiques. Among its architectural features are multiple extended gables with decorative buttresses, a porte-cochere in the same style on the valley side of the house, and a broad, sheltered lanai with a view over the city on the sea side of the house.

Manoa Valley Inn is architecturally significant for its use of eclectic elements which transformed this rather large, but straight-forward, bungalow into one of the more prestigious houses in the area. The original house with its noteworthy shingle treatment, which created alternating wide and narrow bandings on the facade, and its upper story bay windows and large dormer, was greatly embellished by the addition of the heavy brackets and the four corner rooms and the porte-cochere. Combining highly stylized bungaloid features with Queen Anne and Swiss Chalet, the house represents a formidable architectural statement to the street. No other residence in Honolulu exhibits this combination of details, and the use of such heavy bracketing is unique in Honolulu to this house.

Originally numerous large, well-designed houses lined Vancouver Drive; however with the passing of the years many of these dwellings have disappeared. Manoa Valley Inn is one of a few commanding remnants of the earlier time which are scattered along the drive.